A Guide to Teacher Evaluations

Students and teachers may get a bit nervous as classrooms are evaluated. I’ve personally been told from two separate teachers in this past year that it is both “Oh, don’t worry, they’re not evaluating the student – they’re evaluating how I’m teaching,” and “Actually, they’re evaluating you and not me so you guys better act upright.” So, which one is it? What are teacher evaluations, how do they affect me (the student) and the teachers, and how are they evaluated?

Teachers may want to organize themselves before an evaluation. (photo by watchsmart)

Teachers may want to organize themselves before an evaluation. (photo by watchsmart)

Teacher evaluations are used to improve teacher performance and student learning. They also may affect a teacher’s salary, depending on the district.

According to Neatoday, teachers believe they should be paid by anything but student’s test scores. Tests scores can not determine whether or not a teacher is doing his job; some students struggle and strain in subjects, others thrive. Another idea that is offered by Neatoday is the thought of being evaluated by people who specialize in the subject matter being taught. No math teacher wants to be evaluated by a social studies teacher. The classroom environment is different; social studies courses offer more leeway for conversation and getting to know students on a personal level more so than a mathematics course.

Teacher evaluations are different for each district. There are three steps in the evaluation process: Pre-Observation, Observation, and Post-Observation.

Pre-Observation, as according to mathguide.com, is a sort of briefing of what will be evaluated during the observation. This is an adequate time for teachers to come forward with their thoughts, asking for help from an administrator to improve their teaching.

In the Observation step, the administrator will most likely walk around, ask questions to both the teacher and the student, and take note of the learning experience given in the classroom. Annotations will be made upon how well the teacher answers questions and helps the student, the technology that is implemented into the learning experience, as well as the classroom procedures.

The last step, the Post-Observation step, includes a write-up process. They will reflect upon the teacher strengths and weaknesses and finalize their results. The results will then be turned in to the school and district. If teachers find themselves with an outstanding “grade,” they may have a bonus check to look forward to! If they “need room for improvement,” they may be able to refute the findings of the administrator with the help of a Union, or simply understand the “grade” they have been given and seek to improve in their next evaluation. This step is very much like a psychology experiment’s step of debriefing.

Understanding what the administrators are watching for and what should be implemented into the classroom should call for a good “grade.” Knowing things such as the State’s evaluation guidelines and district policies, as recommended by about, will help any teacher who is in the midst of their evaluations.

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